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Josh Linden: The Self-Fulfilling Dahiya Doctrine

In light of the encouraging reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be moderating his position toward peace, I wanted to bring attention to this revealing New York Times article published on the eve of the one-year anniversary of Israel's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. Not out of some desire to counter good news with bad. But rather, the juxtaposition of these two stories could easily be described as a lesson in the futility of intransigence. The Times describes the pervading security mindset within Israel, one which emphasizes the need to "shorten and intensify the period of fighting and to lengthen the period [of relative peace] between rounds." That is, Israeli security officials make the calculation that because conflict of some sort is inevitable, be it with Hezbollah or Hamas or even perhaps Iran down the road, it is in Israel's best interest to maximize its firepower in brief bursts to temporarily subdue the enemy, ostensibly ensuring a longer peacetime environment before the next campaign is needed. In a modern era of asymmetric warfare, they view this as preferable to a drawn out guerrilla conflict that would cost countless more lives and drain Israel's economy. This formulation has become known as the Dahiya Doctrine, named after the Shi'a district in Beirut destroyed during Israel's war with Hezbollah in the summer of 2006. It calls for the disproportionate use of force. It does not distinguish between military compounds and the civilian properties that immediately surround them. It seeks to crush vital infrastructure. But above all, it does these things in order to set a memorable precedent. Attack Israel, and it will respond ten-fold.

Hassan Malik: Hands on Kashmir! (Why Soothing Indo-Pakistani Regional Tensions is Central to U.S. Efforts in Afghanistan)

In a January 8 article for the World Policy Blog, Charles Cogan argued recently that the United States should not attempt to mediate the long-standing dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, as doing so could jeopardize America’s good relations with India and further muddle U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. On the contrary, only by accepting that India-Pakistan relations are a key part of the larger security problem can the United States end the war in Afghanistan. Thus, an active U.S. role in mediating the dispute over Kashmir and other issues dividing India and Pakistan is very much in America’s national interests. First, tensions between India and Pakistan are hindering the latter’s efforts to aid the U.S. military in fighting militant Islamists along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. Indeed, senior American military officials like Admiral Michael Mullen have pointed out that Pakistan's need to maintain a heavy troop presence on its border with India limits the resources it can divert to fighting the Islamist insurgency elsewhere in Pakistan. These officials agree that such a presence is justified, given the history and current level of tension between the two states. While some commentators argue that the Pakistani Army is unwilling to fight extremists on its own soil, Admiral Mullen himself has suggested that casualty statistics show Pakistan to be very much engaged in the struggle against Islamist terror. Indeed, Pakistan’s military has already suffered more casualties in its own fight against militant Islamists than has the American military in Afghanistan. Suicide bombings within Pakistan have already claimed more than 11,000 victims. Thus, the Pakistani army's slow progress in its war against militant Islamists is due not to a lack of zeal, but rather is tied largely to its inability (because of lack of capacity) to focus exclusively on fighting terror as long as Indo-Pakistani tension persists. An easing of the tensions would likely enable Pakistan to redeploy more troops to the fight against insurgents, which would be to the benefit of American forces in Afghanistan. Second, poor India-Pakistan relations are central to longer-term but no less serious issues that plague the daily lives of Pakistanis and contribute to the conditions that drive some of the nation's poorest citizens into the hands of extremists. Pakistan's current water crisis is one case in point. While religious identity is at the core of the Kashmir dispute, water also is a root cause of the conflict. The region is the source of the main rivers flowing through much of the Indian and Pakistani Punjab (literally, "land of the five waters") that is South Asia’s breadbasket. Antagonistic relations only encouraged India to construct the dams that, in turn, now limit the flow of water to Pakistan, threatening its agricultural heartland and creating water shortages nationwide. Of course, myopic policymakers and political horse-trading in Pakistan have only made matters worse. But poor India-Pakistan relations remain the major contributing factor to the crisis. Far from fostering cooperation on the issue, they actually create an incentive for India to withhold water from Pakistan. The water crisis in Pakistan hurts the poorest of the poor in Pakistan—prime targets for Al-Qaeda’s recruiters.

Azubuike Ishiekwene: Coming to America…a Personal Experience of the New Security Measures in the Wake of Amdulmutallab

So, this is what it means to be “pat-down.” I first heard the words after the Christmas Day attempt by the 23-year-old Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, to blow up a Northwest plane over Detroit, Michigan. It was, however, not until nine days and nearly 9,000 miles later before the meaning of the words hit home, with a personal force. My daughter and I departed Lagos on the night of January 4 and by morning had cleared two international airports—Lagos and Frankfurt—without fuss. We had one more stop to make at Dulles International Airport, in Washington, on our way to Austin, Texas. At the Lagos airport, little had changed. It was business as usual. Check-in and airport security officials were happy to do things a bit quicker and to return a smile or two in exchange for a Christmas kola nut. I also did not notice any remarkable changes in security at Frankfurt from when I last passed through in early summer 2009. The officials looked just as cold and stern as they ushered transit passengers through the metal-detectors. Luggage, as usual, was scanned separately. I didn’t observe any fuss, pat downs, or special lanes. The only hint of a tougher time ahead was the frequent announcement at the airport that travelers to the United States must be prepared to comply with restrictions about items they could bring into the country. For me, that was nothing to worry about. On this trip, I had prepared myself for the worst—or so I thought. I had excluded from my suitcases anything I suspected could cause delays and totally ruled out all foodstuffs, including noodles, my daughter’s favorite meal. Before we left Lagos, I took the extra precaution of stripping our suitcases and getting familiar with all their contents before padlocking them, just to be sure. I also recalled the sad experience of another Nigerian traveler who caused alarm (and made headlines) for an overly long stay in the lavatory of a plane some two days later, and on the same route, of that which Abdulmutallab had attempted to bring down. I decided on this trip that once I was boarded, I would not stir for the duration of the flight. No in-flight exercises, no walking up and down the aisle, no food, little or no water. Nothing, I was determined, would make me take a step from my seat. And so it was that in the six hour and twenty minute flight from Lagos to Frankfurt, I was a self-made couch potato in seat 14A. I was flying Business Class, but it would not have made any difference had I been in the luggage hold. Better to be still than sorry. Yet, nothing could have prepared me for the ordeal at we were to face at Dulles.

FALL FUNDRAISER

 

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